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Leadership and followership in health and social care: Challenges and issues

Relationship between leadership and followership

Leadership is considered to be one of the most essential aspects within healthcare since, a strong and relevant leadership style helps in the communication of healthcare goals to followers, helps in recognizing the potential of individual healthcare staff who are then responsible for offering quality care to patients (Alilyyani et al., 2018). Hence, the primary aim of the paper is to discuss the relationship between leaders and followers and highlight the difficulties that are faced by the former within health and social care. The paper will also highlight the issues associated with attracting and keeping followers within the healthcare sector.

Relationship between leadership and followership

Followership is considered to be a concept where a group of individuals shows the capability to carry out directions of their leader, they are the ones who get in line behind the program and strive to meet the organizational goals as well as objectives (Busari et al., 2019). Followers are highly influenced and inspired by their leaders and tend to work according to the guidance and advice of their leaders.

Thus, it should be noted that both leadership and followership are essential and equally essential because leaders help followers to grow, while on the other hand, followers help in contributing towards the success of the leaders by meeting the goals as well as objectives of the organization (Busari et al., 2019). For instance, leaders tend to have a strong influence on their followers, while the latter too have an influence on the former, though it can both be negative and positive (Chatwani, 2018). It is through joint collaboration and participation of both leaders and followers that tasks and goals can be successfully managed, supervised, and evaluated.

Hence, it can be said that without followers there can be no effective leadership since leaders always require individuals who can follow their advice to carry out the organizational goals. It should be noted that both leaders and followers have their rights (Chatwani, 2018). For instance, it is the right of the leaders to expect that work is done on time, honesty is shown, and that decisions are supported and respected. On the contrary, followers, also have the right to be respected and valued by their leaders where they expect equal opportunities and equal delegation of work (Salas et al., 2020).

Thus, it can be said that the relationship between leaders and followers is that of trust, respect as well as transparency that helps in promoting effective collaboration which in turn results in achieving the mission of the organization and thereby enhances its profitability and reputation.

Difficulties faced by leaders in Health and Social Care

Leaders in health and social care go through a lot of difficulties due to changing external as well as internal healthcare scenarios. Transactional and transformational leadership are the two styles that suit best in the health and social care sectors (Richards, 2020). When transactional leadership style is followed within health and social care then leaders try to create compliance by the followers with the help of rewards and punishment and helps in initiating greater productivity and performance by health and social care staff (Richards, 2020).

However, since leaders are nowadays facing a lack of efficient staff within the healthcare sector they are unable to practice the above type of leadership that will help in ensuring timely and quality health and social care (Nyström et al., 2018). Apart from this, another difficulty that is being faced by leaders in health and social care is the changing needs and demands of the staff. In other words, staff working in these sectors come from diverse backgrounds with different types of psychological expectations that are making it quite difficult for the leaders to understand what type of motivation is required by the clinical staff (Nyström et al., 2018). Hence, due to this reason, the aspect of reward and punishment within transactional leadership is not being effectively met.

Transformational leadership also proves to be quite relevant within health and social care, since transformational leaders within these sectors inspire relevant changes within the organization that helps in leading to patient satisfaction and quality care (Jambawo, 2018). The leadership style also helps leaders to adapt their leadership style according to changed circumstances and situations and helps leaders to create a balance between hob resources as well as job demands that leads to effective patient culture (Jambawo, 2018).

However, some of the difficulties that are being faced by leaders in effectively applying this leadership style are the lack of technological resources that will help in initiating transparent communication that helps in keeping the staff updated about the required or relevant changes which would have led to quality care of patients (Oleribe et al., 2019). Budget restraint is another challenge of leaders within the health and social care as a result of which efficient training to staff cannot be provided that has a direct impact in achieving the goals of the organization (Oleribe et al., 2019). Similarly, lack of budget also does not allow leaders to come up with relevant resources which might lead to the development of the staff and also effective care of patients.


Apart from this, leaders also face the difficulty of offering different job roles and a variety of health and social care staff which makes their work quite monotonous and has a direct impact on their work quality has led to the issue of staff shortage in these sectors. Similarly, health and social care sectors do not have effective and updated recruitment systems which do not allow them to attract talented and skilled followers (Karam et al., 2018).

Thus, it should be noted that since there are fewer training programs within health and social care this leads to stagnancy in the growth and development of staff which makes it quite difficult for leaders to retain followers (Karam et al., 2018). Apart from this, the lack of updated technology in both recruitment and job process does not help in attracting followers and neither retaining them as they are unable to offer quality care to patients (Bridgeman et al., 2018). Additionally, due to lack of job variety, growth of job skills and inefficiency of healthcare leaders to understand and meet the psychological expectations of health and social care staff is another issue associated with attracting and keeping followers (Bridgeman et al., 2018).


Alilyyani, B., Wong, C. A., & Cummings, G. (2018). Antecedents, mediators, and outcomes of authentic leadership in healthcare: A systematic review. International journal of nursing studies, 83, 34-64.

Bridgeman, P. J., Bridgeman, M. B., & Barone, J. (2018). Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals. The Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, 75(3), 147-152.

Busari, A. H., Khan, S. N., Abdullah, S. M., & Mughal, Y. H. (2019). Transformational leadership style, followership, and factors of employees’ reactions towards organizational change. Journal of Asia Business Studies.

Chatwani, N. (2018). Distributed LeadershipThe Dynamics of Balancing Leadership with Followership. Palgrave Macmillan.

Jambawo, S. (2018). Transformational leadership and ethical leadership: their significance in the mental healthcare system. British Journal of Nursing, 27(17), 998-1001.

Karam, M., Brault, I., Van Durme, T., & Macq, J. (2018). Comparing interprofessional and interorganizational collaboration in healthcare: A systematic review of the qualitative research. International journal of nursing studies, 79, 70-83.

Nyström, M. E., Karltun, J., Keller, C., & Andersson Gäre, B. (2018). Collaborative and partnership research for improvement of health and social services: researcher’s experiences from 20 projects. Health research policy and systems, 16(1), 1-17.

Oleribe, O. O., Momoh, J., Uzochukwu, B. S., Mbofana, F., Adebiyi, A., Barbera, T.,  & Taylor-Robinson, S. D. (2019). Identifying key challenges facing healthcare systems in Africa and potential solutions. International journal of general medicine, 12, 395.

Richards, A. (2020). Exploring the benefits and limitations of transactional leadership in healthcare. Nursing Standard, 35(12), 46-50.

Salas-Vallina, A., Simone, C., & Fernández-Guerrero, R. (2020). The human side of leadership: Inspirational leadership effects on follower characteristics and happiness at work (HAW). Journal of Business Research, 107, 162-171.

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